Digital currency has already been a rising trend in the travel industry, thanks to the growing popularity of Bitcoin among the most tech-savvy of travelers, but Sweden is set to take the concept even further—their central bank, Riksbank, has announced the beginning of a two-year project to introduce its own national digital money.
Tentatively called the E-krona, its introduction would have a significant impact on travelers, who would no longer have to worry about the tedious process of currency exchange when on trips to Sweden. Rather than bringing their own money and going to an exchange booth to get local currency, the savvy traveler could theoretically buy their foreign currency in advance, eliminating at least two possible stops from their trip.
The benefit, though, could be even greater in the long-term—if the concept makes it big in Sweden and spreads to other developed nations, it could help eliminate the idea of currency exchange altogether and make it easy for people from one country to pay for things in any other. The current Bitcoin environment offers a tantalizing look at that future; at least one man, Felix Weis of Luxembourg, managed to take a year-long trip around the world paying for everything with only Bitcoin. However, he had to be careful to find stores that accept the cryptocurrency, and there are certainly many that don’t. Its status as an “underground” currency also impacts its legitimacy among governments and everyday people.
A form of electronic currency that is accepted as a nationwide standard would open many more doors for many more people, and with big names in the travel industry like Virgin Galactic already accepting Bitcoin payments, the writing on the wall seems clear for a digital future. For now, eyes will be on Sweden as they roll out their grand experiment, hopefully on track to keep us away from currency exchange booths in a few years’ time.